BTA News

Bulgarian Aviation Industry Association Head: Air Schengen to Ease Travel, Promote Business and Aviation

Opening the door to Schengen by air and water is a big step for Bulgaria awaited for a long time, Bulgarian Aviation Industry Association Chairman Torod Ivandzhikov commented in an interview for BTA. In his words, this will facilitate travel, promote business and give a strong impetus to aviation industry. 

For passengers, Bulgaria joining Schengen by air and water as of March 31 will reduce by 15 to 30 minutes on average the time they spend queueing at the airports, because there will no longer be passport control when traveling to Schengen countries. The change will facilitate travel for divorced parents, because they will no longer have to present a document from the other parent allowing the child to travel to a Schengen country. Border Police will have slightly more work and will have to be synchronized with the Schengen countries regarding air security for passengers entering Bulgaria from non-Schengen states, Ivandzhikov said.

For aviation, Bulgaria’s entry in Air Schengen will allow users of small aircraft to leave licensed airports directly to Schengen countries without passing through the four main airports in Bulgaria with Border Police (Sofia, Plovdiv, Varna, and Burgas). That will save time and reduce their fuel costs. Operators of small aircraft offering business trips to Schengen countries will be able to reduce their prices, creating the opportunity for something like air taxis, Ivandzhikov said. This is a great advantage and will give an impetus to aviation industry, he added.  

For businesses, Air Schengen can lead to a business boom in the regions with airports. For example, a businessman with investment intentions in Ruse (on the Danube) will not have to first go to Sofia or Varna (on the Black Sea); he will land directly in Ruse, hold his business meetings and fly back to Europe.

Ivandzhikov noted that as Chairman of Bulgarian Aviation Industry Association, he fights for all airports to be kept, because Bulgaria will need them. “The airport is a gate to the city and the region through which business and investment come,” he added. Active and licensed airports in this country are around 34, some of which have the potential to become transport hubs thanks to being located near motorways and railway transport. The matter becomes particularly topical in light of the future development of cargo drone flights. 

A state strategy for the sector’s development is necessary, Ivandzhikov argued. The sector should be supported by lifting the excite duty on fuels for flight lessons and the VAT on training aviation crew. “We lack pilots. Bulgarian children have to train abroad instead of in Bulgaria,” he told BTA.